Green Groups Already Looking For Their Next Scalp — Ryan Zinke

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Now that Scott Pruitt has stepped down from the Environmental Protection Agency, green organizations have their eye on a new GOP target: Ryan Zinke.

President Donald Trump announced on June 5 that Pruitt was resigning from the EPA, marking the end of what became a tumultuous time at the agency. Environmentalists — all of whom already livid over the administration’s ambitious rollback of many Obama-era rules and regulations — hounded Pruitt over mounting scandals.

What first became an eyebrow-raising discovery of his condo rental agreement turned into a slow drip of other scandals, including the use of first-class flights, expensive pens and requesting his security detail to locate a preferred lotion bottle. News outlets and environmental groups were able to discover more scandal-worthy stories by utilizing Freedom of Information Act requests. By the beginning of June, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had seen enough and asked Pruitt to hand in his resignation.

With Pruitt gone, White House opponents appear to be turning their sights on Secretary of Interior Zinke, another proponent of regulation slashing.

“In many ways, Pruitt was the best thing Zinke had going for him,” Aaron Weiss, media director of the Center for Western Priorities, said in a statement to the Washington Post. Weiss’ group, along with other green organizations, are placing a sharper focus on Zinke now that Pruitt is out of the way.

Center for Western Priorities released a side-by-side list of Pruitt and Zinke’s reported scandals, attempting to make the case that the Interior secretary is just as corrupt. Pruitt has a total of 16 opened investigations, whereas Zinke has 10.

Zinke, a former U.S. representative of Montana, has attracted controversy for a land deal taking place in his hometown. He has been involved in negotiations of a development project that is backed by Halliburton, an oil company that is greatly affected by the decisions of the Interior secretary’s office. The project would also boost the value of land he owns nearby. The situation prompted the Interior Department’s inspector general to begin an investigation.

Other cries of foul appear to be over issues seemingly far less serious.

After Zinke posted a picture of a “Make a America Great Again” sock he wore on June 26, the Campaign for Accountability, a liberal watchdog group, accused him of violating the Hatch Act and called on the Office of Special Counsel to investigate the matter. (RELATED: Liberals Call For Investigation Over Ryan Zinke’s Sock)

Zinke was quick to apologize and delete the offending tweet.

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